Today, the union movement, the APWU and postal workers are shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. On behalf of our 200,000 active and retired members, I extend our deep condolences to the Trumka family.
From the coalfields of his native southwestern Pennsylvania, to the Halls of Congress, Brother Trumka was a steady and forceful voice for working people in this country for decades. Postal workers will remember that under his leadership, the AFL-CIO fought beside us in our many struggles – from our Stop Staples campaign, to our collective bargaining with Postal Service management, to our heated battles to prevent postal privatization. He was a regular and inspiring presence at APWU pickets and demonstrations and he addressed and inspired the APWU national convention on numerous occasions.
President Trumka was first elected AFL-CIO President in 2009, after having served as Secretary-Treasurer of the federation since 1995. Before joining the leadership of the AFL-CIO, Trumka was president of the United Mineworkers of America, where he led his union through many contentious battles, including the historic 1989 strike at Pittston Coal.
Under Trumka’s leadership, the AFL-CIO shook the political world and built a worker-led coalition which succeeded in stopping the rotten Transpacific Partnership which would have failed working people in the United States and overseas. Brother Trumka was dedicated to uniting the entirety of the working class and was long a stalwart proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. Recognizing how the rules are written against working people, Trumka was also a driving force behind efforts to reform U.S. labor law, making it easier for workers to join and grow their union. He was, and the AFL-CIO is, powerful proponents of defending and expanding voting rights.
Brother Trumka’s life in service to the working class can inspire us all. As working people, we can best honor his legacy as another mineworker leader, Mother Jones, taught us best – “to fight for the living.” Let’s honor Brother Trumka by continuing the struggle against Wall Street and the bosses, growing our unions, winning living wages for all workers, achieving a political environment that works for working people and building more workers power and justice for all.